Arsene Wenger is keen for Arsenal to show how far they have come since a New Year’s Day nightmare when they return to Southampton.
Arsenal slumped to a dispiriting 2-0 loss at St Mary’s on the first day of 2015 – a defeat that still rankles with their long-serving boss.
However, almost 12 months on as they prepare for a Boxing Day assignment on the south coast, Arsenal have collected 78 points during the calendar year – 10 more than any other Premier League team – and are primed for a tilt at the title after Monday’s stirring 2-1 win over Manchester City closed them to within two points of leaders Leicester City.
“Every loss hurts – and that one has not gone out of my mind,” Wenger told Arsenal Player. “It was a bad moment for us but also a turning point because we responded very well and overall, in 2015, we had a very consistent year on the result front.
“The vibes coming out after the City game are that we are a real team who want to work together, play together and are ready to fight to achieve a result.
“I believe you cannot cheat the crowd. The crowd was maybe better than ever but I’ve always said that to get that, the vibes coming from your team need to be absolutely spot on.
“We missed passes, we missed goal chances but you could not fault the attitude of any player at any second. As a unit for 90 minutes, the desire to earn your right to win, the desire to commit completely was the most satisfying [part] of the night.”
Nevertheless, Wenger is keen for his players not to get carried away riding a wave of confidence.
“The confidence following a victory like the one against Manchester City of course increases dramatically,” he added. “What you want to maintain is the urgency and remember how much a defeat hurts.
“You have to take the positives out of a game to believe in your strengths. That balance between confidence and urgency has to be right.”